Sanya City

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Sanya Bay
Sanya Bay

Billed as "China's Hawaii", Sanya has long stretches of beach, water sports such as snorkeling and jet-skiing, rainforest hiking, and innumerable hotels ranging from zero to five stars.

Sanya is situated on the southernmost tip of Hainan Province, lying between 1809' and 1837' latitude giving it the tropical monsoon climate of this region. Covering an area of 1919.58 square kilometers (about 741 square miles) with 209.1 kilometers (about 130 miles) long coastline, Sanya has many natural advantages. Possessing a number of excellent harbors, Sanya is an important port for import and export of trade with foreign countries. Therefore, Sanya is also named the 'South Gate of China' to stress its importance while it plays a vital role in the life of the southern part of China in areas of the economy and politics to transportation.

Baofeng Lake
Baofeng Lake

However, for most visitors, Sanya is a noted tourist resort with mountains, sea, river and city. The favorable climate is hot in summer but warm in the three other seasons so attracting large numbers of followers from both home and abroad every year. The whole of Sanya is related to the sea.

Here you can enjoy a unique tropical oceanic landscape that is totally different from the other provinces of China. Sanya Bay, Dadonghai and Asian Dragon Bay all golden seaboards of Sanya, are some of the first choices for visitors to spend their holidays. Instead of a busy and exhausting journey, you can relax totally here by strolling along the beaches and breathing the fresh air. If you are an enthusiast of exciting water activities, Wuzhizhou Island is your place to challenge the mysterious and changing sea. Additionally more than 20 ethnic groups including Han, Li, Miao, Hui inhabit Sanya becoming a wonderful place to appreciate the various cultures of China.

Tasting the local dishes is a must on your journey. Sanya never shirks in its efforts to entertain its guests with a variety of seafood and delicious tropical fruits all the year round. Both of the star-rated hotels and a number of roadside booths serve the freshest seafood. Shopping is also a must on your journey, so don't forget to choose some sea products and beautiful decorations for you or your friends and relatives back home.

Along with the developing economy of this region, Sanya has become much easier for visitors to reach where domestic and international flights can take you in the shortest time. A journey by train and ship will take you a little more time but give you more opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty around you. With good quality, star-rated hotels and reasonable hostels distributed everywhere in Sanya and waiting for you, there is no need to worry about accommodation.

Sanya Famous Attractions

Perfume Bay (Xiangshuiwan): This stretch of beach is rather undeveloped and thus delightfully peaceful (it will probably be only you for a good kilometer on either side). Visiting here is a delightful and mind-cleaning day trip, especially if joined with some hiking around the surrounding farms. Watch out for strong rip tides and pack snacks.

Dadong Sea (Dadonghai):Dadong Sea has Sanya's best balance between development and natural beauty. The town behind Dadong Bay is more expensive than Sanya, but has better restaurants and a gorgeous beach. The shopping, however, is not as good as Sanya city's. The ocean has algae blooms that vary the water from thick green to tropically clear. However, even when "tropically clear" the ocean bed is just sand with a rare school of fish or eel. See the beach both in the morning, at sunset (sets gorgeously over the hills), and at night (when people are very scarce). Check out the trails that lead between tide pools along the Westernmost rocks of the beach. The tip of the trail has a dramatic view of the ocean and a deep and deadly ocean cave.

Nanwan Monkey Island : Actually a penninsula, Monkey Island is home to about 1800 endangered Macaque monkeys whose habitat you get to roam freely through. Be careful, these monkeys will jump on humans (playful) or attack for sweet drinks or food (hungry and thirsty)! There are also some circus-style comedy shows featuring monkeys doing stunts. Entrance ticket is 68 RMB and a round-trip ride on the gondola is another 60 RMB, but well worth the quiet, long, and smooth ride over gorgeous ocean-top fishing villages and jungle.

Sanya Nanshan Temple: Purposefully-constructed tourist trap began in 1998 with a gigantic statue of Guanyin (a Goddess of Mercy) on a sea-top platform. The park has few interesting spots (save a monastery bells that you can "gong") but demands a hefty entrance fee over 150 RMB. A trolley car can shuttle you around the park for extra cash, but it is best enjoyed without the trolley as it really is not that big. Nanshan is about an hour outside of Sanya city by city bus, which can be grabbed at the bus station or along the city's beach-side roadway. The surrounding countryside is much more interesting than the park itself, which is a must-miss.

Xisha Archipelago: Gorgeous, remote, and brimming with tropical life, one of this chain of islands was formerly on exotic vacation spot that is now off-limits to travelers, reportedly due to territorial disputes.

Wuzhizhou Island: A popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, this island has fallen victim to it is popularity. Water is less clear and fish less plentiful than before, so choose dates and times to maximize visibility when visiting. Scuba diving will cost around RMB 400-500.

Betel Nut Ethnic Minorities Park:Hainan is home to a large population of ethnic minorities, predominantly the Li and Miao Ethnic Groups, and you can find out more about them at this park, about 30km outside of Sanya. The park is very commercial with a large number of shops, snacks for sale and (paid) opportunities for photographs with locals in traditional costumes or with indigenous animals. Despite this, it appears that there has been a genuine attempt to show the traditional life and customs of the two minoritiese, and the park appears less tacky than some other similar attractions elsewhere in China. It is probably also a relatively good way for money to be returned to the local community. There is a steep entrance fee (approximately RMB 150 per person) but the park is huge and there are a wide variety of shows; it will take you 3-4 hours to see in its entirety. Be prepared though to fight your way through Chinese tour groups shouting "Blong" as often as they can, the Miao word for hello, and try to eat before you leave as the restaurants outside the park are overpriced. Rental of a taxi from Sanya and backshould cost approximately 200 RMB including the wait in between, but you should negotiate this with the driver before departing. There are also one-day tours on offer in all the hotels, which will offer a discount on the overall price of transportation and entrance tickets, but you will be constrained to the timing of the rest of the group and may be taken to shops on the journey there and back.

How to get Sanya

By plane: Sanya has an airport with flights to nearby Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Zhuhai or Hong Kong. Fares vary significantly, depending on season and the particular tour. You may be able to save money by first busing to Haikou and flying out of the provincial capital's larger airport, but the bus ticket and overnight lodging can exceed the difference and you should account for travelling 3-4 hours each direction. In addition to the bus, you will easily be able to find "heiche" taxis that will take you between the two cities, for between 350 and 500 yuan per car. Although strictly illegal, you can find drivers that are courteous, safe and reliable, although this is much more difficult without being able to speak at least basic Chinese.

By bus: The 3.5 hour bus ride from Haikou will cost about 80 RMB. Buses between Haikou and Sanya depart about every 30 minutes; the last bus from Sanya to Haikou departs around 11PM. Sanya's bus station is along Jie Fang Lu, a few steps south (away from McDonalds) of the east end of "Shopping Street".

By train: Sanya can be reached directly by train from Beijing (35 hours), Shanghai (36 hours) and Guangzhou (15 hours). The whole train is loaded on to a ferry for the journey from mainland China to the Island, then continues its journey around the west coast as far as Sanya. As trains leaving the island originate in Sanya, tickets from this smaller town are easier to obtain than if leaving from Haikou.

The new train station in Sanya is far from downtown, approximately as far as the airport. A taxi to Dadong Bay, the most popular tourist area) is approximately 25-30 RMB. A public bus will cost 1 RMB. Lines 2 and 4 lead through Sanya city proper and continue through (and past) Dadong Bay.